6.16.2011

Aligned vulnerabilities

New backpackBiffle is responsible for the very useful concept of complementary neuroses.  He advises that, when you're seeking a partner, you try to find someone with neuroses that complement your own.  In other words, if you're an anxious, controlling person who is very effective at managing the various components of your life, you might not want to pair up with someone like that.  Far better to have a partner who is--to quote a friend's father--high thrill, low anxiety:  someone who might not be so good at keeping the bills paid, but who has a good time and can seduce you into doing the same.  Same neuroses = overwhelming anxiety (or no bills getting paid).  Complementary neuroses = balance.

I'd like to complicate this concept by adding the notion of aligned vulnerabilities.  Although I think it's great if one partner is calm while the other one is freaking out, I've also learned that it's often a real gift if both partners can share moments of vulnerability.  This can add additional depth to the relationship. 

Here's an extended story that will lead to an example:  Maybelle has started camp this week.  She's at Camp Baker, which is a great kids' camp noteworthy for the fact that they have trained Red Cross swim instructors, and the kids are in the pool twice a day.  You can see Maybelle here, sporting her new frog backpack.  (As a completely unrelated side-note, when we gave her the backpack, she immediately knew what it was, said, "Backpack!", put it on, and then said, "Go to work."  Her mother, as it turns out, wears a backpack when she goes to work, and Maybelle is paying attention.)

At any rate, she's going to camp.  And the first week of camp is transition time for everybody--including the adults.  On Monday, when Biffle and I went together to pick her up, he got teary, wondering how her day was for her.  On Tuesday, when I was taking her to camp, I got teary (and by "got teary," I mean, "Anybody looking over to my car would have seen me crying"), wondering how her day was going to be.  Since then, I've been reflecting on how nice it is to have a partner who sometimes shares your vulnerabilities--even goofy ones.  Biffle and I didn't have to worry that our partner would think we were being ridiculous, or would tell us to suck it up, or would comfort us while kindly rolling their eyes.  We got to share a moment of connection through our vulnerability.

The important ending to this story:  Maybelle is having a great time at camp.  She's not eating at all while she's there, but rest assured there'll be another blog post about that.

5 comments:

Tara said...

"Go to work." I love it! Thank you for the pic, btw. ;)

Alison said...

You're welcome! And other readers who request Maybelle photos--please note that I am trying to meet your needs.

krlr said...

Something about backpacks ages kids about 5 years. She looks so grown up! And, yes, more pictures please.

Quiche said...

Aw! Maybelle looks so cute with her new backpack, and I love the "I'm ready, when do we leave" look (:

You all are as pathetically sappy, tenderhearted and weepy as James and I- ha!

I so understand the complimentary neuroses (: That, and how our partners' quirky neuroses which other people would find obnoxious, bizarre or unappealing, we consider an attractive "charm". (:

Taylor said...

I can't believe how big she is getting! Growing up so fast!